Birth of endangered monkey at Whipsnade Zoo hailed as 'internationally important'

Staff at Whipsnade Zoo have captured video of 'Citrus' playing for the first time

Zookeepers have hailed the birth of an endangered monkey as "internationally important" for the future of the threatened species.

The male François langur baby was born at Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, on August 6 to parents Lee Lee and Wang.

The baby weighed just 450g at birth, about half the weight of a bag of sugar, and has mostly been clinging to his mother ever since.

However, staff said he had recently become "more inquisitive" - allowing photographers to capture images of him for the first time.

Conservationists estimate there are only 2,000 Francois langurs left in the wild - largely as a result of illegal hunting.

Baby 'Citrus' with mum Lee Lee. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo/Mark Johnson

“We are over the moon that he is here - growing stronger and more confident by the day - and that visitors can now see him and be inspired to learn more about this endangered species," said zookeeper Hayley Jakeman.

"Known for their inquisitive expressions and white, prominent ‘sideburns’, it’s vital that we protect these incredible animals.”  

Staff at the zoo have nicknamed the baby Citrus, due to his brightly-coloured fur.

The team added that they would choose a more permanent name once they "get to know the newborn’s personality."

What are François langurs?

Citrus was born at Whipsnade Zoo in early August. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo/Mark Johnson

François langurs are a species of primate native to China and northern Vietnam.

The monkeys are on the Red List of Endangered species compiled by the International Union for Conservation.

According to San Francisco Zoo, their numbers in the wild have declined by at least 50% over the last 36 years.

They are under particular threat in the Guangxi province of China where they are often illegally hunted to help make “black ape wine” - a product made specifically from the species.

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